CLIP: The Possesed
CLIP: Hearing Jesus speak
CLIP: Love scene
Exorzismus eines einfachen Bauern
The False Heart
a film by Cajetan Jacob
Therese moves between two worlds. A maid in the household of the Countess Meta von W., she is in love with her sophisticated mistress. As a woman of humble origins, she must look on as her sister Magdalena is dragged towards the abyss by a diabolical sect leader. Together with the notorious priest Thomas Pöschl, she casts out demons from people in the village. Children are made to renounce the devil, a young woman undergoes a brutal exorcism and is later proclaimed a saint by Pöschl.
When the village priest seeks help from the Countess, the noblewoman embarks on a voyage of discovery to the village, accompanied by Therese. At remote farms, she discovers people who no longer seem to be of this world. Children climb fruit trees to worship the Holy Ghost, girls kneel whispering before Therese’s sister in the fields. Meta summons the new priest to her palace. Can she ward off this growing danger or is a new and perilous force about to sweep over this part of rural Upper Austria, destroying everything that is not pure and holy?
The False Heart is loosely based on historical facts as recorded in source documents. The film reveals not only the rituals, rites and human sacrifices carried out by the Pöschlians, but also the sect’s fanatical mindset. Cajetan Jacob spent three years working on the screenplay, weaving the historical facts into a fictional story of lesbian love. The result is an appeal for tolerance that is as profound as it is spectacular.
This story is registered at the WGA
A dangerous group
A DANGEROUS GROUP
At the beginning of the 19th century, the priest Thomas Pöschl was transferred from Braunau to the tiny village of Ampflwang am Hausruckwald for disciplinary reasons (for overzealous fanaticism). As the assistant parish priest, he was expected to perform simple pastoral duties there. But instead he and the mystic Magdalena Sickinger became the founders of a sect of the ‘pure and decent’. The sect initially aimed to cleanse the ungodly villagers of their sins, force them to do penance for many years and, if needs be, to destroy all unbelievers. But the Pöschlians also aimed to depose the Pope in Rome and convert the Jews of Prague and Jerusalem. Spurred on by these megalomaniacal ambitions, the group soon attracted enthusiastic followers, particularly from among the women and girls of the village. A group of ‘whispering girls’ emerged from the ranks of the faithful. This splinter group quickly mutated from a collection of devout girls to a violent mob. When Pöschl began to speak of the extermination of the unbelievers he was arrested and sent first to Salzburg, and then to the priests’ prison in Vienna. Robbed of their spiritual leader, the simple farmers and maidservants in the sect soon lost control, and the first human sacrifices were not long in coming.
Following the first, astonishing attacks, the exposure of a heart, the slaughtering of a young girl and the brutal cleansing of the masses, the National Guard eventually intervened and freed the frightened country folk from their vicious tormentors. In the ensuing trials, the accused were declared to be of unsound mind and, for the most part, acquitted. Persuaded by the church authorities, Magdalena Sickinger abandoned her visions; she does not appear in the historical records again in a spiritual capacity. Thomas Pöschl was never again to leave the priests’ prison, but for as long as he lived, he wrote letters to Magdalena Sickinger urging her to tell him of her latest visions. Pöschl’s sanity was to become a topic of heated debate for generations after his death.
Casting out of demons in the Hausruckviertel
In the village of Schörfling by Lake Attersee, there was a servant girl who had long been a keen disciple of Polyxenia (Marta in the film) and who spread the new teaching to the surrounding area, attracting followers and casting out the devil. One day, she invited two farmers who were passing by to come into her house so that she could cleanse them of their sins. She locked all the doors and windows, drew a chalk circle on the floor and stood in its centre together with her boy and the two men. She warned them not to step outside the circle or to talk, threatening to summon the devil if they disobeyed. Then she took a washboard in one hand and a jug of water in the other and began to beat the two men and the boy mercilessly, all the while spinning round in the circle. The men suffered the blows unflinchingly, but the boy began to scream terribly. On hearing his cries, the neighbours hurried to the scene, broke open the doors and discovered the maid, bathed in sweat with her hair hanging loose and her breast bare, still holding the washboard and the water jug. The men were covered in bruises but remained inside the circle; the boy was now in bed, barely alive. After her arrest she refused to eat anything, but finally took food and changed her ways after being whipped.
She and the rest of those in the parish of Schörfling who had gone astray were shown the error of their ways by the priest Franz Xaver Derflinger. (From a historical document)
The Pöschlians strongly believed in what they saw with their own eyes. When repeated blows to the pit of the stomach caused a torture victim to vomit, it was a sure sign for the fanatics that the devil was being ejected from the body. Besides Pöschl, Schmidtofferl (the Countess' forester in the film) was also a notorious exorcist.
Screenshot with Beate Korntner as Marta
Droves of zealous girls, priestesses of purity, set out alone in all directions, with tousled hair and batons in hand. They moved with hurried, skipping steps and spoke with rhythmical, sing-song voices, calling themselves ‘sheep seekers’. They hugged and caressed those who followed their invitation to come to the cleansing places, beseeching them to open their cupboards and burn anything dear to them, since such pride was surely the work of the devil. The girls danced out of the church, into the surrounding graveyard and in amongst the headstones. When the village priest arrived and surveyed the scene, he shouted at them, “In the name of the Lord, who is present within, get away from here!”, whereupon they dispersed with mocking grins and clangourous laughter. [...]
Whispering, enraptured girls
She (Anna Maria Burgstaller) summoned all the girls in the area together and called on them to pledge their virginity to God. She sat them all down around a table and gave them images to look at, informed each girl what evil spirits resided in her, and amid imprecations ordered the devil to leave their bodies. She then breathed on each one and commanded that she thus imbibe the Holy Spirit. Finally, she declared each one to be purified, as after baptism, and allowed them to take communion although they had not attended confession. She told them they could now cleanse others who believed in the true teaching. Burgstaller also decried all finery of clothes, encouraged the burning of all traces of pride, and pledged to cleanse the priest in the church at Ampflwang during Holy Week after speaking to him in ancient tongues, preaching the clergyman a severe sermon.
Allgemeine Zeitschrift für Psychiatrie und psychisch gerichtliche Medizin (General Journal of Psychiatry and Psycho-Forensic Medicine), 1856
I was particularly keen to present certain things in the right light. The Pöschlians were a sect of women that was named after a man, with a male murderer (Schmidtofferl). Magdalena Sickinger and her associates Polyxenia Gstöttner and Franziska Haas were the real leading lights of the movement. Pöschl had long been sent to prison because of the previous events. And so it was the women who created this strange cult, and who for the first time ruled over the men as priestesses. Pöschl himself was a weak, neurotic character who needed a female vessel for his visions. Magdalena Sickinger, played by Elke Pusl in the film, was just the right person for this. She was from a highly religious area of Germany and was already prone to mysticism before Pöschl’s arrival in Ampflwang, which she foresaw in a dream. It was her dreams and visions (no doubt highly influenced by Pöschl) that made the Pöschlian movement possible at all.
The fictitious character of her sister is not only an enlightened young woman, she is the only woman in the village still able to think straight. She has received a certain amount of education through her relationship with the Countess and, as the plot moves forward, she becomes an increasingly pragmatic and modern-minded person who wishes to warn of the dangers and stop the situation from worsening further. For her part, the Countess remains a product of her time and tries to bring her power into play. It is clear from the start that such a strategy was always doomed to failure. The Lord spoke to Magdalena: “I shall make everything anew.” For the sect that represented a new order, in which all that is worldly is stripped of any power.
Born in Zurich in 1982, Eva grew up near Lugano in Ticino, Italian Switzerland. In 1997, she moved to Zurich to attend the bilingual artistic secondary school ‘Liceo Artistico’. She moved to Rome in 2004 where she completed her acting studies at the National Film School, ‘Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia’. She moved back to Zurich in 2008 and works as a freelance actor in Ticino and Rome.
2008 - Il Buddha dipinto Kurzfilm
2005 - Mistero e Passione di Gino Pacino
2011 - Una Notte Diplomfilm
Julia Lena Lippoldt
Julia Lena Lippoldt
(Meta, Gräfin von W.)
Julia Lena Lippoldt was born in 1983 and is a state-qualified actor. The False Heart is her first feature film appearance. To prepare for the role, she spent months avoiding the sun, and learned to ride side-saddle and to wear a tightly laced corset. Also as part of her preparation for the role, she corresponded with Cajetan Jacob in courtly German and spent some time living in a castle in Germany.
Elke Pusl spent a year in the US as an exchange student where her high school drama teacher encouraged her to pursue a career as an actor. She spent several years studying at the Strasberg Institute in Los Angeles and worked there as a film and television actor. After her return to Germany she mainly worked in the theatre. Her professional cooperation with Cajetan Jacob began in 2007, when she played the role of the prostitute ‘Dora’ in the film Hurenkarussell.
2008 - Hurenkarussell
2005 - Jew Tales
2004 - Miss Cast Away
Christine Renhardt was born in Vienna, where she also grew up. She studied acting and singing at the Krauss acting school. Her teachers included: Karlheinz Hackl, Polly Kügler, Bernd Palma, Georg Schuchter (Drama), Magrit Wilhelm (Presentation). She has worked on repertory contracts at the Theater in der Josefstadt, Theater an der Wien, Klagenfurt Municipal Theatre, and others.
1980 - The Angels so far (R: Nicolaus Leytner)
2006 - Different Ways (A. Ninaus)
2008 - Hurenkarussell (Cajetan Jacob)
Beate is an all-round talent from Linz. She is not only a singer (Anton Bruckner University) and actor (Lee Strasberg Institute, New York), she is also currently studying for a PhD in History. The subject of her doctoral thesis is ‘Female Visionaries in the Middle Ages’. She was trained by professional stage fighters for the violent action scenes in the film.
Born in 1956 in Mürzzuschlag, Hannes Liebmann began his stage and film acting career relatively late. He studied Theatre at the Bruckner Conservatory in Linz.
2008 - Hurenkarussell
2006 - Kotsch
2002 - Kommissar Rex
2000 - Die Klavierspielerin
(Sebastian, Count von W.)
Luc Müller was born in Lausanne in 1978. He attended the Scuola Teatro Dimitri University of Theatre and Theatre Creation in Verscio, Switzerland. He continued his training in standard stage German, including with Jürgen Wollweber and Katharina Ramser, and attended workshops on dance and theatre in Brussels, Paris, Lisbon, Zurich and Bern. Since founding the ‘werkstatt14a.com’ with Piotre Tollik and Nina Engel in Bern in 2006, he has realised various projects under the name eng//müll.
2010 Der Komponist - Kurzfilm
2010 Die Falle M - Kurzfilm
Georg Bonn mit Lotti Waidmann
Georg Bonn is a member of the ensemble at the regional theatre in Linz who occasionally works as a film and television actor. He studied acting at Berlin’s University of Fine Arts from 1988 to 1999.
2008 - Hurenkarussell
2000 - Wolffs Revier
2000 - Klinikum Berlin Mitte
1998 - Polizeiruf 110
Born in Baden near Vienna in 1961, Walter Ludwig studied acting at the Conservatory in Vienna, graduating in 1987. He has worked at the Vienna Volkstheater, the Munich Volkstheater, the Vienna Burgtheater, the Vorarlberg Regional Theatre, the Westphalia Regional Theatre and the Tyrolean Regional Theatre.
2009 – Die Hebamme
2008 – Am Prater
2008 - Hurenkarussell
(Servant girl Anni)
Angelika Nieder is an actor and musical performer. She was born in Berlin and now lives in Freilassing in Bavaria. ‘Anni’ is her first major film role. In recent years she has performed in her own plays, worked as an acting teacher and is now considering opening her own school.
(Producer, Art Director)
As an independent producer, Bettina Hutterer not only pulls all the strings behind the scenes at GRUPPE:filmkunst, but also works directly on the set as art director and camera operator. Like Cajetan Jacob, she sees filmmaking as an interdisciplinary art, and always has every detail of her productions in mind. She can easily rustle up 30 extras for a scene in a park or organise a steam locomotive with original carriages within the space of a week.
2001 - Die Wirtin nach F. M. Dostojewskij
2002 - Mauer *
2003 - Die Stimme
2006 - Leipzig, ein Deutschlandbild *
2008 - Hurenkarussell
* (Regie & Schnitt)
Since graduating from the SAE (School of Audio Engineering) in Vienna, David Walter has worked in the film and television industry and in the recording studio at Sony BMG. Knowing the sound challenges of a historical film, he arrived on set armed to the teeth with state-of-the-art equipment.
2008 - Hurenkarussell
2012 - Das Falsche Herz
(Costume Assistence, restoration)
Birgit Ortmayer studierte Textil Kunst/Design an der Kunstakademie Linz und arbeitet immer wieder als Kostümassistentin bei Theater - und Filmproduktionen. Dabei ging ihre Arbeit beim Falschen Herz weit über bloßes Anpassen und Nähen hinaus. So restaurierte sie mit großem Einsatz, innerhalb weniger Tage, ein völlig desolates Cape aus dem späten 19.Jahrhundert von dem nur mehr ein Fragment übrig geblieben war.
AUSWAHL BISHERIGER ARBEITEN:
2010 - Kostümbild für "Der Prozess" nach Franz Kafka,
Studentisches Universitätstheater Reykjavik
2011 - Kostümbild für "DNA" nach Dennis Kelly
Studentisches Universitätstheater Reykjavik
2012 - Das Falsche Herz
(Screenplay, Editing, Direction)
Cajetan Jacob does not settle for apparent truths. He attempts to encounter his characters with maximum depth and dignity.
With his latest work, he counteracts the tendencies of religious fashions, which loom in the zeitgeist of this economic crisis. Doing so, he unmasks the everlasting, infallible human longing, which sometimes grows into despair.
2002 - The Landlady
2005 - The Voice
2008 - The Broken Circle
2012 - The False Heart
AUSTRIAN FILM FUND:
Upper Austrian Film Fund
Lea Laura Winter
Austria 2012, HD / Color / 1h 45m
Exorcism - a challenge to film
- a challenge to film -
Many people have seen The Exorcist including myself of course, and I loved the film. Since that genre-defining horror film there has been no end of scenes featuring levitating victims of the Almighty, writhing above their beds. The general rule, since it came from America, then became: ‘louder’, ‘more aggressive’, ‘more monstrous’ and ‘more spectacular’.
Despite what was falsely reported in the media, my exorcism scene was only a small part of the action in the film. I didn’t want to make it look especially ‘great’ or ‘spectacular’ and neither did I want to award it some kind of special status within the film. I prepared it, as I always do, by first sitting down and researching the topic as thoroughly as possible. I read 18th and 19th century documents, but actually everything already seemed familiar. So there was nothing sensational or new to be gleaned from history. So what else could I do, but create an exorcism scene that was the exact opposite of a Hollywood film scene: turn convention around without robbing it of all its drama!A mighty priest who just shouts ‘Be gone!’ the whole time? What does he mean? Where does he want the possessed girl to go? From hell back to the bosom of the Church? But enough of the puns... No screaming! Not in rural Upper Austria. Not from a priest. Not in the silence of the forest. No, that wasn’t the way. I wanted the priest to whisper to the devil. So that meant there would be no Hollywood hocus-pocus with screaming, flying props and rattling, collapsing buildings. I wouldn’t have filmed such nonsense even if I’d had the money. Where would that have left my European cultural values? And they do that kind of thing better over there, anyway. So I prefer to stay faithful to my own style. And then there was the issue of dynamics. About 30 or 40 cuts would be usual for this kind of subject, but I decided to stick to just two or three moving shots, for the economy of space. Those were technical considerations, but the dramatic side was much trickier. Thomas Pöschl only had a few scenes in the film, but they were very important. Historical records show he was famous for his charismatic preaching. He had a talent for influencing people, persuading them they were guilty of great sin. That seems quite subtle and doesn’t make for dramatic scenes. How could his scenes compete with other, more dynamic ones?
The answer was simple. I decided to show him surrounded by his followers, kneeling over a possessed girl (Beate Korntner), saying quietly to them all, "Watch what happens now!" – Then I had him draw in his followers: “Are you all so pure and godly?” At the end, they would all stand there staring in astonishment at the cleansed girl (Beate Korntner); Pöschl (Hannes Liebmann) triumphant, Magdalena Sickinger (Elke Pusl) fascinated by the events, the faithful mass of Pöschlians (extras and small-part actors from the Vöcklabruck region) completely indoctrinated, and poor Therese (Eva Allenbach) as shocked as anyone can be. All that in one sequence. In one fell swoop, so to speak.
To a large extent that was thanks to Bettina Hutterer’s talent for cinematography. She was able to capture each element at just the right time. Korntner’s scream, then when she collapsed, her rolling eyes - and she even managed to get in a small but tension-raising pan shot towards the end, which created a new line of vision upwards towards the astonished onlookers. In the end I was very pleased with the results. I had not yet seen Beate in that role and she was brilliant, my ideas worked out and in the end my exorcism scene was individual enough to make it stand apart from other films. By using just a few shots I created the feeling that you are one of the people actually taking part in the scene. The actors were placed so as to create the right scene and the dynamics came about naturally, not produced artificially with flash editing.
I chose a similar approach for the second exorcism scene, where the devil is cast out of a sinful farmer. The possessed man rolls around spastically on the floor and is held still by Magdalena Sickinger (Elke Pusl) with a picture of the Sacred Heart. This scene was closely based on historical examples.
A journey to a different time
- A feeling for past ages -
“Copperplate, corsets and no make-up”
Despite the distance in time to a story from the 19th century, working on The False Heart felt much closer than you might think. That was not only because the action was shot very near, or in some cases actually at the original locations where the story of the Pöschlian sect unfolded. It was also due to the fact that those working on the film came with us on our journey to the past and many of them had personal ties to the Hausruckviertel area due to their family history or where they lived. When we were casting our extras we came across faces that were not just expressive, but also had interesting stories to tell. But we never managed to get to the bottom of the mystery of where Polyxenia Gstöttner’s house actually stood in Ottnang am Hausruck. Apart from the original costumes, I think one of the most special things is that we filmed in the original houses. Historically accurate furniture and fittings, tiny windows letting in very little light, together with the dark wood, had a direct effect on the actors and crew in terms of pacing, attitude, respect and realism. Of course, those cramped, low-ceilinged spaces were a major challenge as far as space and the technical equipment were concerned. But the crew survived the unusually cold nights of that summer, huddled into a wooden corner with the mice, maggots and mega-spiders. The ‘warming hole’ above the stove was more important for scenic purposes than for warming us. An open fire in the farmhouse and a joint rendition of the (old-style) Lord’s Prayer catapulted us straight back to a long-forgotten time. One set was recreated in the GRUPPE:filmkunst studio, paying great attention to the materials and colours. The almost tonalistic design extended to the wall fabrics, which were match to the costumes, as well as to the pottery, the wall panelling and many other details. Although the director’s perfectionism really drives me crazy, it is also a great learning process covering everything from riding side-saddle and behavioural codes for servant girls to the protection of historical monuments. Or how hard it can be to find the owner of a field or a castle. What else? Copperplate, corsets and no make-up.
--- BETTINA HUTTERER, PRODUZENTIN ---
The power of dialogue
Throughout my whole career I have never been as shocked by the effect of dialogue as I was by this film. I didn’t really realise it when I first read the screenplay. “She led the way for us all,” is a simple sentence, but in the right context it can hit us like a slap in the face. Sometimes during filming I wanted to march right into the frame and shake my characters. Have you all gone mad? That urge was particularly strong with Magdalena (Elke Pusl) and Marta (Beate Korntner). When you write a story, you do so with the conscious aim of sparking a certain emotion, but often you only find out when you start filming what effect it has on your actors or on you yourself.
As she turns round, she sees Marta above her on the first floor of the premises, while the whispering girls approach her on the same level, armed with wooden sticks.
“What Satan has brought together
let Man now tear asunder...”
Meta recoils and disappears behind the post. She quickly tries to untie her lover but Marta is coming ever closer, her footsteps whirling down the stairs.
"Then will I teach transgressors thy ways;
And sinners shall be converted unto thee..."
(Excerpt from the shooting script)
Kostümfilm mit historischen Originalen
Meta’s reception gown
Original, made between 1875 and 1889.
Except for the two priests’ cassocks, all the costumes in the film were original. Since it takes a lot of time to get hold of historical costumes, to date them and keep them in good repair, I spent months, if not years, scanning historical fashion journals, studying paintings and collating everything into a huge database reaching from the year 1800 to 1900. That enabled me to research everything very thoroughly and form my own ideas. In the end, I collected more than 700 historical illustrations. Of course, I could have made it easier for myself by using a few books, but books are in the public domain and I think enough has been copied for artistic purposes. That has turned a lot of the clothes you see in such books into clichés that should be avoided these days. What did people really wear back then? How did the fabric hang? How was a dress fastened? Often, you end up standing in front of a dress on a dummy and you don’t know where to start with all the hooks and eyes. All that effort becomes worth it when you realise that what you’re holding is a piece of history. Some of the dresses had labels pinned on them that listed the historical figures who had worn them. For the actors it was the form that was most important – not being able to breathe properly, or move their head above the chin, or execute any move without coordinating it carefully. Of course, some precious pieces were damaged, but that was when Birgit Ortmayer’s wardrobe department came into its own. The young fashion designer took great care in repairing anything that was torn. She even copied Meta’s tattered cape piece by piece, and her masterpiece was finished in just a few days.
Meta’s reception gown
Original, made between 1880 and 1889.
With Hurenkarussell, GRUPPE:filmkunst gained a name for itself as an independent production company for historical films at international film festivals from Rome to New Jersey. The company deals with timeless issues such as prostitution or child abuse, placing them in the context of modern social relations. Its artistic directors are Bettina Hutterer (production and art design) and Cajetan Jacob (screenplay and direction). GRUPPE:filmkunst is based in Attersee in Upper Austria.
FILMOGRAPHY OF FEATURE FILMS
2002 - The Landlady based on Dostoevsky (Die Wirtin)
AT 1h 12 m / W, D: Cajetan Jacob / P, C: Bettina Hutterer
Cast: Banu Bikeev, Hubert Alfanz, Benedikt Bauernberger
Katerina is a woman in her early twenties. Her fate is strangely bound to a man called Ilja Murin. It was he, who imprisoned her to a small St. Petersburg flat. Having killed her intention to live, Katerina is completely under his control. Day and night she is forced to hurt herself, in order to get her religious freedom.
2005 - The Voice (Die Wirtin)
AT 1h 10 m / W, D: Cajetan Jacob / P, C: Bettina Hutterer
Cast: Sonja Zänger, Florian Hackspiel, Gudrun Wenninger
Discover the mysterious world of late 19th century. Meet Sophie, a former actress, who longs for her lost lover. Get in touch with Pierre a young medical doctor who is searching for truth and the meaning of love, or Camile, the blind girl who lives with her parents in the slums of the city. Brought together by fate, all these people have one thing in common: A very special view of love.
2008 - The Broken Circle (Hurenkarussell)
AT 1h 25 m / W, D: Cajetan Jacob / P, C: Bettina Hutterer
Cast: Magdalena Kaim, Walter Ludwig, Heike Kotsios, Elke Pusl, Christine Renhardt, Hannes Liebmann, Günther Lieder
1905: Syphilis and prostitution flourish in a small town somewhere in the Danube monarchy. Though prostitution is officially prohibited, the panderers have found a way to bypass the law. Children run through the streets and do the pimping. In the midst of the night stands Marie, a young prostitute, who has learned how to live in this shady environment. She dwells together with Grete, her pregnant colleague, and some other whores at the brothel on the outskirts of town. Marie's encounters with johns have many faces; notorious bon vivants, an old man who brings cake from his wife, and Count Albin, a lofty gentleman whose behavior is very strange. Before Marie sleeps with him, she must tie a blue band with white dots around her thigh. The next day she encounters the Count shopping with his twelve year old daughter, Anna. It's apparent that Anna who wears a blue band with white dots in her hair is afraid of her father. Marie is deeply touched by Anna's emotional state which provokes her curiosity about the child. As she investigates Anna's situation Marie's humanity is revealed. It's ironic that a girl, Anna, of noble origins finds a motherly role model in Marie the prostitute. Because of this relationship the brothel is transformed into a nursery and Marie's bed becomes a safe haven from a pedophile father. Marie herself is also transformed into a loving, motherly individual.
2012 - The False Heart (Das Falsche Herz)
(see the page above)
The False Heart
The Broken Circle
The Broken Circle
THE FALSE HEART
will be submitted to many international film festivals. Please check this site for further information.